hurty brain

I’m mere hours (I hope) from finishing my current WIP. This is one of my favorite parts of knitting* because I get to decide what I’m going to work on NEXT. In this case the answer is my Boyden cardigan**. Does that sound vaguely familiar? It’s the one I was going to design, and blog about as I go. Who knew (back in October) that it was going to take such a long vacation…

Anyway, it’s at exactly the same point as when we last saw it – awaiting some math. So last night I sat down to do some math.

boyden grading

Believe it or not, I enjoy this process. It’s the designy part of designing. Even when I have an overall idea for the garment there are lots of questions to answer:
What sizes do I want to offer?
How many total sizes?
What’s the increment between sizes?
Is there going to be a button band?
How wide a band?
Does the width vary for each size?***
Where does the cable go?
Will it fit in that panel for the smallest size?
How about the largest?
Will the armscye decreases eat into the panel?
How to I prevent that?

This process makes my brain feel itchy, in that I-can-practically-feel-the-synapses-growing kind of way. And this sweater was especially challenging. Because of the asymmetric cable placement I need different numbers of stitches on the left and right sides. This means taking into account how much the cables will pull in the fabric, and placing the shaping, side seams, etc… all slightly akilter. But just akilter enough that the garment will look and feel symmetrical. Asymmetrically symmetrical? Something like that.

And all along there are the regular checks as well. If I want a 36″ bust with a 1″ button band I need to subtract that inch before calculating the stitches. Then I need to check and make sure the stitches will divide evenly for the 2×2 ribbing at the hips. And where do I start the hip shaping? How high up should the waist be knit even? But I must make sure the row gauge lands that hip shaping somewhere below the waist length****. And where does the neck bind off go? And make sure THAT’s placed asymmetrically. Then realize the cable panel won’t fit across the shoulder as written. So I’ll use the narrower sleeve cable on the upper shoulder. Perfect! Except. Wait, the front and back cables need to be at the same row for the grafting, so let’s make sure I have that written into the directions…

And I’m doing these checks for all 9 sizes from the outset. Nothing is worse than getting one size all written out, only to find you need to change TWELVE things to make it work for some other size. Better to tackle all the sizes at once and make all the changes as I go.

No one ever said designing was easy. Well, no one who ever tried it anyway…

*ok, they’re all my favorite parts. Well, almost all…
**check out the designinprogress tag to see all the old entries that reference this project.
***I believe it should. A 1″ button band is 1/30th of a cardigan on a 30″ bust but it’s only 1/60th of the cardigan on a 60″ bust. That’s half as much. To maintain the overall visual look of a design the widths of the various elements need to change as the garment sizes grow.
****Nothing sucks more than being directed to knit the waist to 6.25″ only to find yourself at 7.5″ by the time the hip shaping is done…

5 responses to “hurty brain

  1. my brain hurts from reading this . . .

    • I’m sure I could’ve explained it in a more clear and concise way. This is more an example of my stream of thought. And that’s way less likely to make sense to other people…

  2. My biggest problem is the maths. They do not like me; I do not care for them, but they are a necessary eeevil to be sure. Even with spreadsheets and cheatsheets and an abacus.

  3. Do you have built in formulas in your program? When my husband was ill, I dropped out of my college computer class when we were at worksheets and functions. :-(

    • Yes! A simple example would be for the sizing. I know I want each one to be about 4″ bigger than the size below. So the first one is 30″ and then I set it up to calculate +4 to each cell value across.

      Of course it gets way more complicated when I want to figure out how to space the decreases evenly in thirds across the back, then I’ll be dividing, multiplying and rounding (up and/or down) to get whole numbers that work for every size…

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